The minister who officiates at your loved one's funeral donates his time and energy to help your family in a time of grief. In many cases, a minister who is familiar with the family may even make house calls and provide great words of comfort. As a way to show appreciation, it's customary for the family to offer a monetary gift, called an honorarium.
The Emily Post Institute considers offering an honorarium for a funeral or memorial service the proper etiquette for the family. The honorarium shows that you appreciate the minister's time and that the value he brought to the funeral did not go unnoticed. A separate thank you card should also be offered, either accompanying the honorarium or sent through the mail later.
The amount of money you give to the minister will vary depending on where you live, your relationship with the minister and the means of the family. A range of $100 to $300 is suggested by Emily Post, though you may give more or less depending on your specific circumstances. For instance, a minister who is close to the family and spent several days personalizing the service may be granted a larger honorarium than one who sticks to a standard script. It's acceptable to ask the funeral director or church secretary for guidance regarding how much to donate.
Funeral Director's Role
Not only can the funeral director provide guidance for how much to offer the minister, he can also deliver the honorarium. The honorarium is typically handed over after the funeral is complete; given the family's state of mind and grief, it often makes sense to ask the funeral director to handle the task of giving the minister his donation. The director should place the honorarium check in an envelope with the minister's name on it.
Other funeral participants, including the organist or church sexton who prepares the sanctuary, are often granted an honorarium as well. When the family is on a budget, it's important to factor in the other honorariums before deciding how much to give the minister. In some cases, the minister may refuse a donation because he believes the service is a part of his calling. It's most respectful to honor the minister's wishes, though a thank you card should always be sent.
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